West Lothian mum presents maternity ward with ‘cuddle cot’ to help bereaved families
When Stacey Macdonald gave birth to her stillborn daughter Miah ten years ago, the precious moments the pair spent together were some of the most important of her life.
But with a need to keep Miah’s body at a low temperature to avoid deterioration before burial, the grieving process was complicated.
Now Ms Macdonald, 30, is helping other families in the same situation by presenting St John’s Hospital Maternity Ward in Livingston with its first “cuddle cot”, a cooling system allowing parents who have lost a baby to make memories with their child before saying goodbye.
It allows parents to stay with their child for days or even weeks before their funeral, hugging them, dressing them and coming to terms with their loss.
Ms Macdonald, from Broxburn, gave birth to Miah in 2009 at St John’s and said she wished she had had a cuddle cot when coping with the loss of her little girl.
A cuddle cot is a cooling mattress that stops a deceased baby’s body deteriorating, and can be placed in a cot or a pram. She said: “When I had Miah they had to take her back and forth to the morgue every few hours to make sure she stayed preserved.
“I spent the weekend with her but it was really hard with her going away and coming back every few hours and having to repeatedly say goodbye.
“That’s why the cooling cot is so important, it cuts out the mortuary system and means that families can take their baby home and spend time with them.”
Since losing Miah Ms Macdonald has set up a Facebook community page of 60 women who knit clothes and blankets for newborns in hospitals across the country. The group, Miah’s Butterflies, is to honour Miah’s memory and has helped Ms Macdonald turn her grief into something “positive that helps other people”.
She said: “Miah was born at 22 weeks and because she was born before the 24-week stage, I didn’t get a death certificate so I had to try and keep her memory alive in other ways.
“That’s what Miah’s Butterflies did, it completely changed my grieving process because it gave me a positive way of thinking about Miah.
“Being able to help people in her memory is an incredible feeling”.
Miah’s Butterflies launched its first fundraising campaign to raise the £1,735 needed to buy the cuddle cot earlier this year.
The group raffled off handmade baby clothes and blankets online and have made over £2,000.
Ms Macdonald thought it would have taken “a lot longer to raise the money but everyone really got behind the idea.”
She said: “I would really like to thank everyone, including all the local businesses, who supported our fundraiser.
“My Mum, Mandy, and all the ladies at Miah’s Butterflies worked incredibly hard making all the items to raffle off.”
Stacey will deliver the cot to St John’s hospital next week. She said: “It felt right that St John’s would receive the cot as they are the hospital that cared for Miah and me.
“I hope this is just the first of many cuddle cots we can donate to hospitals.
“For me, being able to help other babies, it’s a really good feeling.”